Godolphin trainer's disgrace complete with eight-year ban

BHA disciplinary panel bars horses injected with steroids from running for six months

The British Horseracing Authority has completed the astounding, headlong fall from grace of Mahmood al-Zarooni by banning him for eight years. On Monday evening, the BHA had shocked the racing world by announcing that 11 of the Godolphin trainer's horses had tested positive for anabolic steroids in random testing of 45 horses at his Newmarket stable on 9 April. It took only 72 hours to convene a disciplinary panel and pronounce a verdict on Zarooni – leaving observers divided as to whether the regulators had been merely ruthless, or reckless.

In a way, it hardly mattered whether he was banned for eight minutes or eight years. His employer, Sheikh Mohammed, has professed such fury over the humiliation of his elite stable that he has shut its gates, pending tests on every horse. The 37-year-old Zarooni's career is in ruins.

Simon Crisford, the Godolphin manager, said after the hearing that "the vet's assistant had no idea what he was injecting" and that he "had a direct order" from the trainer. "This is a terrible situation," Crisford said.

"Mr Al-Zarooni acted with awful recklessness and caused tremendous damage, not only to Godolphin and British racing. I think it will take a very long time for Godolphin to regain the trust of the British public. We're shocked and completely outraged by the actions he has taken."

As soon as the sensation had erupted, the Godolphin website quoted Zarooni as professing regret for "a catastrophic error" in administering ethylestranol to seven horses and stanozolol to a further four; he subsequently admitted that four other horses not tested by the BHA had been given steroids. He claimed that he had been unaware that he was breaching any rules, as the horses were out of competition. This would have been the case in certain overseas jurisdictions, but Crisford said that he did not find that protest of naïvete credible. "Everyone knows you can't use steroids in England," he declared.

Zarooni issued another contrite statement. "I accept it was my responsibility to be aware of the rules," he said. "I would like to apologise to Sheikh Mohammed, as well as to all those involved with Godolphin, and the public who follow British racing."

The BHA had initially been told the trainer would have a legal representative as he answered charges before its disciplinary panel. In the event, he faced the music on his own. It seems as though no exculpation was ever going to be offered. His name was on the licence, after all, and the rules specify strict liability for trainers in such circumstances. But the BHA stressed that its investigation had established Zarooni's direct accountability. It also emerged after the hearing that the BHA will conduct the horse-by-horse testing at Moulton Paddocks, the yard at the centre of the scandal.

The 15 horses known to have received steroids were meanwhile suspended for six months – almost the entire Flat season. Certify, previously among the leading fancies for the 1,000 Guineas on Sunday week, is among those who must remain idle until 9 October. Jamie Stier, the BHA director of raceday operations and regulation, explained: "The suspension reflects the period beyond which the BHA is confident that the horses can have derived no performance-related benefit from these prohibited substances."

Paul Bittar, its chief executive, insisted that the BHA had not shown undue haste. "As soon as the nature and number of positives became apparent, we recognised a number of challenges for the sport and the BHA, initially in the very short term," he said. "The immediate priority was to establish how the prohibited substances came to be present in the horses' samples. Secondly, in view of the potential repercussions for the sport and the profile of the races for which some of the horses held entries, it was in the public's interest, as well as that of the BHA and Godolphin, to progress the disciplinary procedures as quickly as possible."

Ultimately, he felt that an "exceptional" case also had benefits. "We believe the outcome is an endorsement for the effectiveness of British racing's dope-testing programme," he said. "[It] will serve to reassure the public, and the sport's participants, that use of performance-enhancing substances in British racing will not be tolerated."

 



Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life